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Counteroffers on the Rise: Here’s How Pre-boarding Can Help

July 12, 2022

Have you offered a job to a terrific candidate only to be notified that they have received a counteroffer from their current employer? There are some tactics you can utilize to save your hire from falling apart! Let’s dive in.

Counteroffers are the new normal in the war for talent - and are happening at nearly all employment levels and skill sets. With increasing frequency, counteroffers are swift, significant and relentless - sometimes even resulting in serious stress for the departing employee. What can you do in this situation? We have some ideas here.

Why are counteroffers on the rise?

Low unemployment rates, skills gaps, and a spike in retirements all contribute to an increased demand for experienced candidates. The result is a marketplace filled with real opportunities for career advancement and increased compensation in almost every industry.

Resignations are on the rise as employers struggle to fill existing vacancies.

The result?

Counteroffers are becoming a kneejerk reaction to retain team members. Employers are responding to resignations with increases in pay, career advancement – or both to convince a highly needed employee to stay with the organization.

In times past, an organization could feel confident that an accepted job offer would result in the new hire reporting to work as expected. Today, the “offer/acceptance” stage is no longer the end of the road to filling a vacant position. Instead, it should be viewed as a step in the process with more actions necessary to ensure that the new employee is secure. The transition time (notice period and planned time off) between employers is the prime window a departing employee will be subject to frequent and intense enticements to stay – and therefore the critical time for you to begin building rapport with them.

What can you do?

Fortunately, there are numerous actions you can take to reduce the risk that a counteroffer scenario could derail the anticipated arrival of your new employee.

Pre-boarding- The term “preboarding” refers to a variety of actions designed to create employee engagement during the transition time – and is distinct from “onboarding” activities that occur once employment has commenced.

Frequently, a resignation is accompanied with a two-week notice period and in some C-suite or executive roles the period can be four weeks. Often, the individual will utilize PTO or vacation time between jobs for rest and celebration before the new chapter. The resulting timeline could be upwards of 3-5 weeks from the time your offer is accepted and the anticipated first day of work. That is a long stretch to go silent with your new employee and leaves them stranded to navigate the emotions and tactics of a counteroffer.

Make a plan that incorporates contact from the direct supervisor as well as Human Resources. Utilize “preboarding” strategies. One to two contacts per week for the duration of their transition period is ideal. While “onboarding” incorporates necessary HR tasks and documents, “preboarding” is much more about relationship building activities.

Some popular options include:

  • Have the CEO send a welcome email (or better yet, formal printed welcome letter) for all hires at any level not reporting directly to the CEO.
  • Create and send a “Welcome Gift” to the new employee’s home. Fill it with company swag such as a water bottle, t-shirt, modest gift cards for coffee, etc.
  • Create the new employee’s email address and follow that with a company-wide email announcing the hire, department, location, and arrival date.
  • Invite the individual to any organization or department events occurring during their transition period. Hosting a summer cookout? Having a company retreat? These are great team-building opportunities!
  • Invite the individual to any industry events, local conferences, or other work-related activities occurring during their transition period.
  • Schedule a virtual coffee break or host a team lunch with the department.

Notice a consistent theme here? “Preboarding” activities are about maintaining contact and relationship building with your new team member. Your offer of employment sent them the message that you value them as a person and the experience they possess – and that you want them to be part of your team. Actions speak louder than words. Use the transition period to show the new employee that you meant everything you said. These steps will reinforce their decision that they’ve made the right decision to advance their career with your organization and reduce the chance that a counteroffer from their current employer will be successful.

Questions? Need help finding the perfect candidate? We can help.

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